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The Magic of Re-reading

I was just having a conversation with someone a few weeks ago about re-reading our favorite books. I remember lamenting at the time that I just don't have time to re-read books even though I want to. Like my husband always says, “Life is too short to re-read books you've already read.” Of course, I disagree with him. I've read the Harry Potter books a number of times, and some of my favorite scifi books (ENDER'S GAME, DUNE, and Isaac Asimov's FOUNDATION series all come to mind) are always in the back of my consciousness, influencing my reading choices or the way I live my life. I love those books and will happily re-read them all again, sometime in the future.

I was thinking about this whole re-reading phenomenon. If you've read a book and are reading it again, you already know the plot, the conflict, and motivation of the characters, the three things that make up a good book. So what is it about re-reading that appeals to many of us? My theory is that there's magic at play.

Lol. Please laugh with me because this was really my best theory on the matter. Each of these re-readable stories holds a magical quality that feeds us, inspires us, and continues to move us with each subsequent reading. It charmed us the first time, educated us the second time, comforted us the third, and so on. The magic doesn't fade with each reading, it morphs, especially if years pass between readings. New life experiences may color or affect the words on the page so that what may have been meaningless before is suddenly life-altering. Aren't books amazing?

After trying to read several new books these past weeks and failing (audiobooks notwithstanding), I decided it was time to go back to my bookshelf for some magic. I was inspired to pick up THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE again after reading an article about the moment Haruki Murakami knew he was going to be a novelist.


Murakami is arguably my favorite author and this is my favorite book, but it's been at least 8 years since I've read it! I remember reading it for the second time around the time my oldest was born, so I know it's been a while. What better way to refill my creativity well and experience the magic of re-reading than reading my favorite book again! I started reading it last night, and I'm already enjoying the story once more. I love the quality of his sparse writing and sentence structure and the random nature of events that surely mean something in the grand scale of the story. I'll be interested to see how this book affects me this time. Last time I read it, I cried at certain points. Will these chapters and moments move me again? Or will other points of the story capture my attention? It is an experiment worthy of my summer.

What are your favorite books to re-read? Why do you re-read them? And do they mean something different to you each time you read them? Leave your answers in the comments!

7 thoughts on “The Magic of Re-reading”

  1. I am a re-reader, too, even though I have piles of new books to read. I agree there is magic in the books we go back to, and yes, comfort. I often turn to my old favorites when I’m sick or blue. For some, it is like a visit with old friends. I’ve been “re-reading” Georgette Heyer in audio and it is so interesting to hear her words spoken. It’s the same…but different, but very much enjoying the books in this new way.

    1. It certainly does feel like meeting up with an old friend, which is another reason why I like re-reading some books. I never thought to re-read in audio format! I might have to try that. :)

    2. I don’t take nearly enough time to re-read, but I do enjoy re-reading books. And there are quite some books and series I would love to re-read. What I enjoy about re-reading is that because you alreayd know the plot, you can pay more attention to other things, you notice the foreshadowing more and you experience the story in a different way. It’s also familiar, but new at the same time, you already know parts, but there are always lots of things I forget or didn’t quite remember how they happened.

      The few books I re-read are the first two books in Kelley Armstrong her Gathering Darkness series, her Darkness Rising series, the Fever series by Karie Marie Moning and the first 3 or 4 Harry Potter books I re-read multiple times when I was younger. All books I loved and re-read for that reason.

      The Fever series I re-read two years ago I think and it was great to re-read knowing what was going to happen. I bought the series in e-book so I could re-read without worrying about damaging my physical copies. And the first chapter of the first book the main character basically spoils the story, but if you haven’t read the book you don’t quite understand it, while when re-reading you know exactly what she means and to which events he refers to. It is told as if the main character is looking back and telling you the story, which works very well for foreshadowing.

      I can’t remember the last time I re-read a book, once I am a bit ahead with review books I should make time to re-read a book or two. I hope you’ll enjoy re-reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicle :)

      1. You’re right. Since I already know a book and its plot, I am able to see the style or foreshadowing or little bits that I missed the first time. I find it a lot of fun to re-read and catch the things the author left for me that I didn’t see in a previous read-through!

    3. Pingback: Book Chat #19 – S. J. Pajonas

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